My thoughts: Deep Time and Beyond:
For the v a s t majority of the history of planet Earth, there was n o s u c h t h i n thing as personality, thought, speech, words, emotion, or meaning as we know them. Such complex things had simply not evolved yet. There was no such thing as a brain on earth that could form thoughts, make plans, experience emotion. For most of earth’s history, even simple plants had no existence yet. No animals. There were not even significant levels of oxygen in the atmosphere for the first 2 billion years of earth’s history. There were no plants for about 82% of earth’s history, and plants were not yet dominating the land for about 89% of the planet’s existence! The thriving of mammalian life didn’t occur until the most recent 3% of Earth’s history.
For 99.8% of planetary history, there were no hominins (human-like evolutionary ancestors of modern humans).
No primates (incl. monkeys, tarsiers, etc.) until 55-74 million years ago, no hominoids/ apes until 25 mya, no hominins until 6 mya, no Homo erectus until c. 2 mya (migrating hunter-gatherers who could use fire), no Homo sapiens until 0.2-0.3 mya.
99.96% of Earth’s history passed before the earliest evidence of stone tool use among human ancestors.
Genetically “modern” humans have only existed for about 200,000 years, ...
which is an amazingly LONG time from the perspective of a single human life, right?!,
but is only 0.0044% of Earth’s history!
— almost nothing! Not even a half of 1%!
Yet even with them, if we were suddenly transported back 200,000 years, we would see no civilization, no cities, no agriculture, no use of metal tools. Those genetically “modern” humans had not yet figured out how to grow plants deliberately to harvest them. They hunted and gathered.
And they had no clue they were on a spinning planet, circling one star in a sea of stars in a yet bigger set of dispersed star-seas, inside a yet bigger space of mostly utterly black “silence.”
Humanity’s portion of the great universal play is but a relatively brief span, and the overwhelming majority even of human experience has been without civilization, writing, agriculture, the most popular religions, gods, or philosophies, or sciences, etc.
And as mindbendingly looooong as Earth’s history is, even Earth itself was not around for the majority of the time (2/3) the observable universe existed.
Genetically “modern” humans have only existed for less than 0.0015% of the history of the observable universe. And a single modern human life is but a wee fric-fraction of that.
And even in this bit of time, conscious humanity occupies a seemingly infinitesimally small fraction of space.
Consciousness, personality, thoughts, wisdom, love and emotions as we know them are but the tiniest of microscopic fleeting fractions of blips in a vast cosmos.
They are like an ephemeral hint of frothy foam upon a few scattered waves in an unfathomably deep and silent sea.
If contemplating a lack of contemplation seems like chasing one’s own tail, at least we can appreciate silence?